The Road Less Traveled

I decided to take a detour while out in Surprise Valley the other day.  I hung a right off of County Road 6 and traveled between several ranches for a few miles.  Along the way I passed a pasture full of cows.  The calves are still less than a year old and huddle around their mothers or lay in the grass with their eyes closed.  As I fly by in my over sized work rig, many of them run or hide behind the preponderous girth of their mothers.  Further down the road I came across a man burning the excess brush of his field in small isolated piles.  When he came into view, he carried a pitchfork with a large burning mass that he used to spread the fire to multiple piles.  After igniting his last clump, he leaned against his fork and watched me pass.  I gave a courteous wave which he returned before turning back to his work.
Much of the time when you travel down these forgotten country roads, people spot you a mile away as someone who does not usually drive there.  It does make me a little uneasy at times because people are not always welcoming of a government rig riding along their property lines.  As I reached the stretch of road where the pavement ends, I came across this mutilated sign.  In many ways it expresses the mind set around here.  These tiny communities hold very large amounts of land; ranches and pastures that stretch for hundreds, sometimes thousands of continuous acres.  Many of them seem to feel that they are more independent (or should be) from the rules and regulations of the Federal Government.  We do, after all, occasionally enforce conservation practices since many of these ranches also have the right to utilize public lands for their.
Checking in all directions, I decided I was quite alone.  I stopped my truck and hopped out to get a couple shots of this murdered sign.  It was a short photo shoot, only a minute or two.  Climbing back in the truck I flipped through my shots and prepared to continue on my journey.  I intended to turn around just outside of a particular ranch I had heard about – the owner does not appreciate the Bureau and at times drinks a little too much and gets hostile.   I fired my rig up, and jumped in my seat as another truck came riding up behind me.  It followed me for a bit then shot past me and left a trail of dust blocking my view to the point that I had to slow way down.  They too slowed down and matched my speed.  They stopped their truck just outside the cattle guard on the outskirts of the ranch and waited for me to pass.  These fellas did not wave back as I passed them.
Perhaps I just have an active imagination, but my nerves got the better of me and I turned around soon afterward.  On my way out of the area, I passed the old boys again, this time they gave me a slight wave as if to say, “thats right, good bye.”  Now I dont even expect that anyone would hurt me or anything like that, and if I really needed help, I am positive that I would have it very soon.  What I do not want when I am out surveying and navigating the back roads is to end up taking a wrong turn onto private property, which can be taken very seriously here.  Also, I do not want to get people talking that the Bureau is out taking pictures of their property and keeping a close eye on what they are doing.
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One thought on “The Road Less Traveled

  1. I think it is interesting that you, a bit of an independent cuss yourself, is now cast in the role of the “man.” It’s also a bit paradoxical that the Bureau, trying to protect the land that these people hold so closely, is seen as the enemy. But suspicion of strangers,of authority, is bred into the people of the mountains and the open spaces, I guess. It is imbibed with the water and inhaled with the air!

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